The 'Squid Game' cast explains origin of the 'red-light, green-light' doll for American audiences

Kids in Korea actually have to deal with this thing IRL.
October 7, 2021 1:48 p.m. EST

Unless you’ve been on a social media detox, odds are you’ve now heard about the TV phenomenon that is Squid Game. The Korean series is currently No. 1 in 90 countries, and the popularity continues to grow as viewers catch on to the uniquely dark premise.

If you need a refresher, the series revolves around characters who are more than down on their luck: they’re in severe debt and are desperate. So when they’re invited to a competition in which they physically put their lives on the line and play children’s games for billions and billions of dollars, many of them (eventually) accept.

Part of the appeal may be that the games these contestants play are creepy AF. That much is clear in the first episode, in which we meet a giant robotic doll who heads up a murderous game of "Red-Light, Green-Light." When she says “green light” the characters move towards a finish line. When she says “red light” her head spins around. Anyone moving is immediately shot.

Since that episode, the doll has been a bona fide TikTok star, done interviews, and become a promotional tool for the show, with Netflix sending out bobbleheads to press and influencers and installing her at an intersection in the Philippines to deter jaywalkers. Heck, she’s even Cardi B’s profile picture on Twitter.

@sionybaby #squidgamesyndrome #squidgamedoll #redlightgreenlight #squidgame ♬ Squid Game - Green Light Red Light - Yovinca Prafika
@joelenriga1999 Squid Game Doll #squidgame #squidgamenetflix #netflix ♬ Squid Game - Green Light Red Light - Yovinca Prafika

What North American audiences might not realize is that the doll is even creepier when you learn about its origins. The cast of Squid Game appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this week, where they confirmed that the doll was in fact based on a familiar character that’s used in Korean school textbooks for kids. 

“When we were at school, there were like, characters,” explained Jung Ho-yeon, who plays Kang Sae-byeok. “One is a boy, one is the girl. The boy’s name was Chulsoo, and the girl’s name was Younghee. And she’s the one [on the show].”

Further digging reveals that the doll (whose name is Chantal the Doll) is actually real, and belongs to a horse carriage village in Jincheon County, South Korea, where tourists can visit her at the entrance. The owners originally covered her up to avoid spoilers, and when she returned following production she was missing a hand.

If you’ve seen the show, you know. Meanwhile for many fans, all of these origin reveals just make the entire premise—and doll—even creepier. 

@user4061863700927 Have u noticed? #squidgame #totoro #doll #kdrama #netflix ♬ original sound - user4061863700927

So… think you’re going to get some sleep tonight? No worries, just grab your favourite, beloved childhood doll and snuggle on up.

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